POTENTIAL UNDRAFTED FREE AGENT TARGETS
Potential Undrafted Free Agent Targets
By: Jeff Martin
If you poll most basketball analysts, the consensus about this 2012 NBA draft class is that it is one of the best and deepest drafts since 2003, and has a chance to be the best ever. But unlike the 2003 draft, which featured stars such as LeBron James, Dwayne Wade, Carmelo Anthony and Chris Bosh, this drafts strength lies in its depth. Count Hall of Famer and former NBA Executive of the Year Jerry West as one of those who believes the 2012 draft class will go down in history.
"Its unlike anything I've ever seen before," West said of this years prospects. "The way I look at it, there will be 40 players from this draft who will go on to have 10 year careers."
With that type of depth, some quality players eligible for this years draft will likely go undrafted and with the Hornets currently having only 7 players under contract, they will most certainly look to grab a player or two from the pool of undrafted free agents. All of these prospects come with flaws which is why they may not be drafted, but they possess the potential to carve out a role in the NBA and I will take a look at what they may be able to bring to an NBA roster. While some of the prospects listed will undoubtedly find a spot in the second round, if any of them should slip, GM Dell Demps should get hold of their representatives immediately.
Recent notable undrafted free agents who have made an impact in the NBA include Jeremy Lin, JJ Barea, Raja Bell, Udonis Haslem, Jose Calderon, Bruce Bowen, Ben Wallace, Wesley Matthews, Reggie Evans and Chuck Hayes.
Quincy Acy- (Baylor) 6'6, Power Forward, 12.0 ppg 7.4 rpg 1.8 blk
Why sign him: A guy who personally stood out to me while visiting a Baylor practice 2 years ago, even after Coach Drew pointed out that he had a freshman (Perry Jones III) who could be the No.1 overall pick. Undersized as a 6'6 power forward, Acy makes up for it with his non-stop motor and extreme athleticism, as he could fill a highlight reel by himself with his monstrous dunks. In fact, 50% of Acy's field goals were dunks. He tested best at the combine in the lane agility drill in 10.48 seconds, and also makes up for his lack of ideal height with a 7'3 wingspan, which allowed him to block nearly 2 shots a game. Baylor has been littered with NBA talent throughout his years (Ekpe Udoh, Perry Jones II, Quincy Miller) yet Acy has been the heart, soul, and unquestioned leader of those squads.
Why he goes undrafted: Outside of his leaping ability, Acy does not posses any other standout skill. Some scouts believe that because of his lack of height, he will not be able to play his natural position at power forward and will not be able to stay in front small forwards in the league despite him testing well in the lane agility drill.
Jae Crowder- (Marquette) 6'5, Small Forward/Power Forward, 17.5 ppg, 8.4 rpg, 2.5 stl
Why sign him: Crowder has a very workman like game with Kenneth Faried type dreads and Kenneth Faried type energy. If Chuck Hayes can be serviceable for the Kings as a 6'6 center, Crowder surely can give you solid minutes at the 3 or 4 with his strength. An example of that strength was on display as he tested out as the strongest athlete in the combine, bench pressing the 185-pound bar 20 times. Crowder is also a proficient defender, ranking 5th amongst eligible NBA prospects in steals per 40 minutes.
Why he may go undrafted: Crowder doesn't have a position and basically played power forward at just under 6'5. He has generally been unable to create his own shot, and while energetic, his game is based more on effort than talent, which could hinder him at the next level.
Robbie Hummel- (Perdue) Small Forward, 6'9, 16.4 ppg, 7.2 rpg, 2.0 apg
Why sign him: Thought of as a 1st rounder before injuries severely derailed him. The senior bounced back to have a very solid year despite not being 100%, and as that right knee strengthens, Hummel will only get better barring a setback. He has good size for the small forward position and decent court vision and passing skills, but would likely make his living in the NBA behind the 3-point line as he has deep range and shot 38% from beyond the arc. Hummel likens his game to that of a Jared Dudley, and that would be a great find as a undrafted free agent if that comes to fruition.
Why he could go undrafted: Hummel tore the ACL in his right knee at the end of the 2009-10 season, then weeks before the start of the 2010-11 season tore the same ACL again. To say injuries and health are a concern is an understatement. Add to that, those injuries have limited his already marginal athleticism.
Alex Young- (IUPUI) 6'6 Shooting Guard/Small Forward, 20.4 ppg, 5.9 rpg, 2.2 apg
Why sign him: Great size and athleticism with an NBA ready frame. Young ranked in the top-5 nationally in scoring and lead his team in rebounding, block shots, steals, made three pointers and free throws made. Instictive scorer who is capable of creating his own shots and is also a solid ball handler in the open floor. Although playing against inferior competition, showed potential as a lock-down defender using his combination of size strength and length.
Why he may go undrafted: Very streaky as a perimeter shooter and extremely reliant on his dominant left hand, which obviously could pose problems at the next level.
Darius Johnson-Odom: 6'3 (Marquette) Shooting Guard/Small Forward, 18.3 ppg, 3.5 rpg, 2.7 ast
Why sign him: Undersized like most fringe second round players as a 6'3 small forward, but with his long arms (7'11 reach) and supreme athleticism is an excellent wing defender. Also registered the highest maximum vertical jump at the combine with an astounding 41.5 inches, and checked in as one of the stronger players in the draft as well out-lifting most power forwards and centers at the combine with 17 reps of 185 lbs. DJO is also 41% career 3-point shooter and looks to be a deep threat at the next level
Why he may go undrafted: The recurring theme here has been undersized, and as noted DJO is that. While he is a decent passer, he does not have the ball handling skills to play point guard and has trouble finishing at the rim.
William Buford- (Ohio St) Shooting Guard, 6'5, 14.5 ppg 5 rpg 2.7 apg
Why sign him: Buford is an above average athlete at the shooting guard position who shot 40% over his career from 3-point range and has the potential to develop into a quality deep threat in the NBA. Described by ESPN analyst Chad Ford as the "Classic guy who goes 2nd round or undrafted and breaks out", Buford helped lead Ohio State to the Final Four in his senior season.
Why he goes undrafted: A bit older for his draft class at 23. Weighed in at 11.3% body fat at NBA combine, second most among attendees. Was pushed around a lot when going for rebounds despite his size and could use additional strength.
Hollis Thomas (Georgetown), Kris Joseph (Syracuse), and Kevin Jones (West Virginia) are also potential undrafted free agent prospects who could stick on an NBA roster.